N. Chan, I. Benzie

Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HONG KONG)
In this paper, we describe an initiative for enhancing the collective teaching quality within an inter-disciplinary academic department of a university through the implementation of a series of semi-structured discussion forums. The forums have served as a platform to foster better communication among teachers in identifying and addressing authentic issues encountered during their teaching and to encourage and facilitate exchange of tips and ideas on the practice of teaching based on the pooled experience of the teachers. In stark contrast to conventional educational development programmes for teachers, our discussion forums are not meant to be training workshops on skills of teaching. In particular, we share and use expertise of senior and experienced teachers for the development of younger and less experienced teachers, which aims at helping to plan for succession, sustainability, and enhancement of teaching quality among colleagues at both individual and collective levels. The forums also offer valuable opportunities for teachers to discuss issues of urgency or common concern in regard to academic development planning and other institutional changes in policies and guidelines. The paper concludes with a summary of lessons which we can learn from the implementation of the discussion forums, and the various benefits of these informal exchanges for improving teaching quality.